A year to the day since a lone bugler played the Last Post inside an empty stadium, the MCG has played host to the biggest crowd at a sporting event anywhere in the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
- The AFL and government allowed a maximum of 80,000 people into the ground for the game
- The 78,113-strong crowd pipped an India-England T20 from March for the biggest post-COVID sporting audience
- Essendon won the traditional clash against Collingwood 16.13 (109) to 13.7 (85)
The traditional Anzac Day clash is the biggest AFL home-and-away game of the season and it once more lived up to that billing.
After COVID-19 put a line through the 2020 blockbuster, 78,113 fans turned out to watch Collingwood and Essendon face off, with the Bombers running out 24-point winners in an entertaining match.
The crowd comfortably topped the 67,000 that attended a Twenty20 cricket match between India and England in Ahmedabad last month.
Sitting 15th and 16th on the ladder before the match, both teams are enduring difficult seasons but that did nothing to subdue the atmosphere.
Victorian fans have been more reluctant than normal to attend games this year as the world adapts to life amid a pandemic.
But with the state government this week increasing capacity at the MCG to 85 per cent, no diehard fan was missing this.
On the same weekend banners returned to AFL fields, Collingwood and Essendon ran through the same one — an entrance that has become an Anzac Day tradition.
Next was the minute’s silence and the performance of the Last Post.
While last year’s recorded rendition was unforgettable in its own way, once again having a stadium full of people remembering the sacrifices of fallen soldiers was truly special.
The Last Post is played before all games during the Anzac Day round, but what stands out at the Collingwood-Essendon clash is the roar after the national anthem.
Not since the 2019 finals series has there been such a loud noise at a football game in Victoria.